How to Approach Online Dating for Beginners (If You Haven’t Already Tried)

So many choices, so many dating apps. Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

Ah, love.

The warm, fuzzy butterflies you feel when you meet your potential prince or princess charming. The fantasy of what life looks like with this person flashes before your eyes the moment you meet them.

For those of you that have either been living under a rock, swore celibacy for the better half of your life and are just starting to date, or have been in long-term relationships for years while online dating apps have completely rewritten how people date today, Welcome to Modern Dating.

You have just found yourself in a puddle of the what-could-bes, what-could’ve-beens, situationships, breadcrumbing, ghosting, one too many dinner dates, Netflix and chilling, or running into The Tinder Swindler.

Sure it sounds scary, but online dating isn’t all bad.

Online dating makes it easy to meet people.

Dating is fun when you’re confident, social and open-minded and get into the zone. With Tinder, Hinge, Coffee Meets Bagel, Plenty of Fish, Bumble, and etc., you get the opportunity to meet all sorts of people from all over the world in different walks of life. You just gotta sift through them all.

Depending on how you approach dating, you can tailor it in any way you want: you can meet a local when you’re traveling, you can find yourself an escort to a wedding, you can book a dinner date or two a week ahead, plan to grab coffee the night before meeting, or choose to grab drinks even hours before.

Online dating apps are like turning a light switch on and off. You can literally delete your apps one minute or start them the next minute, unless you get banned. But that’s another story.

Though I am currently in my temporary phase of taking a hiatus from romance to focus on myself, here are the few things I’ve learned throughout my online dating career so far and hope these can help you too:

  1. Be Open-Minded

First things first, be open-minded.

When you are first starting off, try to be open to talking to different people. Get a feel for who is out there and how you are on dates.

I have always told my girl friends, who were hesitant to try online dating, to be more open. They would not go on dates with seemingly nice guys because they were a couple inches too short, too tall, their teeth were crooked, their outfit was too old or their initial conversation starter was too dry.

Now, I am not saying that you should lower your standards or compromise your beliefs. Figure out the few things that you absolutely cannot compromise and be open, at least in the beginning. Sometimes, you may have the best texting chemistry, only to find out that it doesn’t translate in person.

Some of the best dates I have been on were the least expected. A few worked out and a few didn’t, but I gained the experience and have quite a few good stories to tell. Best of all, these experiences also helped me to understand what I need vs. want in a future life partner.

  1. The first “date” isn’t really a date.

You may disagree, but, after being on quite a few first dates, I realized the first “date” is more of a meet up. The basis of this encounter is to put a personality to the person behind the screen that you have been talking to and see if there is in-person chemistry.

If you both vibe, then you can set up different real dates.

For others, they may take meeting up more seriously, but I realized online dating is a numbers game. You need to swipe and meet in quantity before you meet someone who you want to spend more time with.

In my experience, I have been in situations where we would text 24/7 for 2 weeks straight and meet each other to find that we just didn’t like each other.

So, I recommend that you take first encounters fairly casually and don’t psyche yourself out.

Either grab coffee, ice cream, drinks, or go to Dave & Busters. And if it leads into a full blown day or evening date, so be it.

  1. Be aware of the ghosting.

So you unexpectedly decide to go out for drinks with a guy you connected with. And hot diggity, you guys have the chemistry and just have a great time. You can see things potentially moving forward and you want to hang out with him again.

But, he hasn’t texted you since your first encounter. You wait a few days and decide to text him instead, letting him know that you had a good time and want to link up again.

Some completely just don’t respond back or others text back with a “Sounds good” and never get back to you.

I have been on countless first encounters or “dates” where we hit things off, or so I thought, only to never hear from them again. If this happened to you and you’re sitting there wondering what went wrong, don’t worry, you are not alone. It’s still a puzzle that I and many others are trying to figure out.

Everyone on these apps are talking to and most likely dating multiple people at a time. You yourself probably have 100+ likes on your tinder with 30 different ongoing messages. Give everyone a clear shot, but don’t take them too seriously unless they give you a reason to do so.
Two beautiful people having coffee over sharing their dating ideas on a beautiful day. 😀 Photo by DocuSign on Unsplash

  1. Be transparent & honest with what you want.

You got connected and went on a few dates with man of your dreams. And well, you are really digging him. It’s very hard to be vulnerable and honest with how you feel. But if so, show and tell him you’re interested.

Try not to get too ahead of yourself and tell him you want to be the mother of his children and move in with him, but tell him you’re interested in getting to know him better. Being direct is attractive and shows that you’re confident.

It’s never easy for anyone to be so transparent especially when you risk getting hurt. It’s something I am constantly learning how to do while learning how to love and take care of myself first.

Get clear and be honest with yourself of what you want and go for it! Rejection is only hard in the beginning, but it is better to get a clear answer of yes or no.

Otherwise, you will end up wasting your own time. Precious time and energy you cannot get back when you can be spending that on someone else.

  1. Try not to Rush Into Anything

If there are sparks flying the first few times you meet, that is awesome. But, if you can, try to hold out on getting physical too fast. Unless that is what you are in the market for. There is no shame in that. You go get it!

You’ve probably heard this a dozen times already, but yes, getting physical complicates things. At least for me, it confuses me. I would feel frustrated and ask myself why I get sad or feel dejected when in fact I’m not even that into him!

More often than not, you may find yourself in a situation where you guys hang out for a while and find out that they are not on the same page as you are. They may still be talking to other people and weighing their options.

Or, they may be giving you just enough and not quite more, breadcrumbing you. And if you give too much of yourself too soon, you might feel like the are leading you on. Which they might be, but also you might have just gotten too ahead of yourself.

  1. Be yourself.

If you are like me in any way, it’s easy to fall into the trap of putting aside who you are to please someone else. But also, if you just really like the person, you may find yourself trying to be someone that you are usually not.

Be charming, and dress to impress, but be yourself. You don’t have to disclose of how you may not wash your hair everyday but don’t mold yourself into someone who you think they might want you to be.

I’ve been through that route before, and well, you get lost. If you’re not fully self aware, you are going to feel unhappy and not even sure why. You may feel imposter syndrome too, of not feeling like yourself. Save yourself the time and heartbreak, and learn to be your authentic self.

  1. Have fun no matter what!

One of the best things I learned how to do is to have fun, no matter what.

You will run into and find yourself in a lot of different situations. You might get catfished and find yourself stuck having a fancy Italian dinner with this person because you feel bad flaking on them. Unless you have an escape plan on how to get out of the situation within minutes of meeting the person, you may end up having to have a whole meal with them.

Nevertheless, everyone is human and are interesting.

If you take interest in the person that they are, and not within your strict, judgmental lens mate-finding mode, things will become more enjoyable. Y

You will find yourself enjoying a nice meal over a good conversation with an interesting person that you just met. It’s up to you to shift your perspective.


All in all, everyone’s dating experiences are and will be different. Dating might feel like a full time job at one point, but learn to have fun along the way.

You will learn a lot about yourself. Be prepared for the ups and downs but enjoy the process. Thanks for reading the few things that I have learned about myself and how to approach certain situations. I hope these can help you too.

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